A "shramik special train" carrying around 1,200 migrant workers left for Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh from Maharashtra's Bhiwandi at around 1:23 am on Sunday. The migrants started gathering from 2 pm on Saturday in Bhiwandi in order to complete all the formalities and medical check-ups.
Speaking to news agency ANI, senior police official Anil Kumbhare said, "This was a tough task as we did not have much time. Within less time span we prepared the data and completed the registration process. Their medical screening was also conducted. I would like to request everyone to not believe in rumours, people can get done with the registration process on our website."
Rajesh Narvekar, Thane Collector said, "We ensured that their medical check-up should be conducted and food should also be arranged for their travel. This was a big challenge for us. We are happy that we were able to do it. We are collecting the data of stranded people in Bhiwandi, later we will prepare data of people who want to go to their respective districts."
The move comes after the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) granted the permission for movement of the stranded people, including migrants labourers, workers, students, tourists, and provided the procedure for the same.
The railways on Saturday ferried home nearly 10,000 migrants from eight states to Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar on 10 special trains, a senior official said. He said the trains were planned on the request of these eight states — Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Kerala, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Gujarat.
"We have planned 20 trains for today and they will run from five southern states and Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan on Saturday towards Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Around 1,000 passengers are onboard each train, maintaining social distancing protocols," said Director General (DG) of Railway Police Force (RPF) Arun Kumar.
"We are only transporting passengers. Whenever a demand comes from the states, we will run the trains following proper protocols," he said.
However, officials later said, the railways could only run 10 of these trains as the completion of the screening process necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic and logistics take time. The remaining trains will be run on Sunday.
Jharkhand, which has requested 31 trains, tops the list of states who have reached out to the national transporter to help migrants return home. It has paid the railways in advance for its services, the officials said. Earlier, many states like Bihar, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Telangana had requested the government to run special trains to ferry migrants home.
Considering the requests, the Centre on May 1 decided to run Shramik Special trains to different destinations. Many people who were stranded away from their homes in different parts of the country due to the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government over a month ago will reach their native places on these trains.
(With agency inputs)